26 February 2010

Book: Dalit Theology and Dalit Liberation

Peniel Rajkumar, "Dalit Theology and Dalit Liberation: Problems, Paradigms and Possibilities" (Ashgate, February 2010):


Publisher's description: "In fulfilling the long-awaited need for a constructive and critical rethinking of Dalit theology this book offers and explores the synoptic healing stories as a relevant biblical paradigm for Dalit theology in order to help redress the lacuna between Dalit theology and the social practice of the Indian Church. Peniel Rajkumar's starting point is that the growing influence of Dalit theology in academic circles is incompatible with the praxis of the Indian Church which continues to be passive in its attitude towards the oppression of the Dalits [a self designation of the traditional low caste/untouchables] both within and outside the Church. The theological reasons for this lacuna between Dalit theology and the Church's praxis, Rajkumar suggests, lie in the content of Dalit theology, especially the biblical paradigms explored, which do not offer adequate scope for engagement in praxis."

Reviews: "Dr Peniel is an excellent guide through the complexities of the caste system and its enduring potency in the India of today. The central concern of Dalit theology is with the Dalit people, [...] who are still a vast number of poor, despised and underprivileged people. This is an important, relevant, and disturbing book. It should be widely read, and responded to." (Duncan B. Forrester, formerly University of Edinburgh)

"Peniel Rufus' incisive dismantling and insightful reconstruction of Dalit theology is a fresh and compelling contribution both to local and global theologies. Drawing creative synergy from his discontentment with Dalit [t]heology's apathy toward everyday liberative praxis, Rufus brilliantly re-interprets the synoptic healing stories to engender committed and concrete emancipatory patterns for overcoming caste-based discrimination in India. This is a passionate, original, constructive and courageous book." (Sathianathan Clarke, Wesley Theological Seminary)

"In many ways this is the book on Dalit theology that those of us working in the area of liberation hermeneutics have been waiting for. [...] Here in South Africa we have witnessed a similar failure in the 'practical efficacy' of liberation theologies. We have much to learn from this book, both because of the similarities between our struggles and their struggles, but also because of the differences." (Gerald West, University of KwaZulu-Natal)

Peniel Rajkumar is an ordained minister of the Church of South India, Diocese of Vellore, and Lecturer in Christian Social Ethics at the United Theological College, Bangalore.

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